Background: Hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection and hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) are two major health problems in Taiwan. In order to prevent from HCC, the current mainstay of treatment for patients with chronic HCV infection is the combination therapy of interferon plus ribavirin. However, those treatments generally cause physical and psychological distress and decreased patient’s QOL. Until now, there is no study to compare the impact of treatment on quality of life between patients with HCV and HCC during receiving treatment.
Aim: The aim of this study was to compare the differences in quality of life and physical and psychological distress between patients with HCV and HCC during receiving treatments.
Methods: A cross-sectional design was used to recruit the participants. Eligible participants were hospitalized patients with HCC receiving non-surgical treatments; meanwhile, patients with HCV infection were outpatients receiving interferon combined ribavirin therapy. Disease information was collected from chart and a set of structured questionnaires was used to assess patients’ symptom distress, anxiety, depression and quality of life. The t test was used to examine the differences between the two groups.
Results: The participants with HCV infection (n = 161) and HCC (n = 122) all reported fatigue was the most distressed symptom during the treatment and there is no statistical differences between the two groups. Compared to the patients with HCC, those with HCV infection had lower level of depression but worse QOL, especially in physical functioning, bodily pain, vitality, and mental health.
Conclusions: Fatigue was the most distress problem in the two populations. Patients with HCC had higher level of depression but those with HCV during the interferon therapy had a worse level of QOL. Therefore, health care providers should offer fatigue management program for both of them. However, more psychological management is needed for patients with HCC; whereas, symptom management is needed for those receiving interferon therapy in order to improve their QOL during therapy.